Ru-Rong Ji

Professor in Anesthesiology
Distinguished Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology, in the School of Medicine
Professor in Neurobiology
Professor in Cell Biology
Email address:

Chronic pain is a major health problem in the US, affecting 100 million Americans. The long-term goal of the lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the genesis of chronic pain and, furthermore, to develop novel pain therapeutics that can target these mechanisms. We are interested in the following questions. (1) How do neuroinflammation and activation of glial cells (microglia and astrocytes) regulate pain and spinal cord synaptic plasticity via neuro-glial and neuro-immune interactions? (2) How do secreted miRNAs regulate neuronal signaling and synaptic transmission and pain as novel neuromodulators and pain mediators? (3) How do pro-resolution lipid mediators such as resolvins and protectin control pain via GPCR and arrestin signaling? (4) Do pain and itch share similar mechanisms? (5) How does Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in primary sensory neurons regulate pain and itch? (6) How can bone marrow stem cells produce long-term pain relief via secreting anti-inflammatory and trophic factors? We employ a multidisciplinary approach that covers in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo electrophysiology, neuronal and glial cell biology, transgenic mice, and behaviors.

Education and Training

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences (China), Ph.D. 1990

Associated Faculty Labs

Department Affiliation

  • Department of Anesthesiology


Chen, Ouyang, Christopher R. Donnelly, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Regulation of pain by neuro-immune interactions between macrophages and nociceptor sensory neurons.” Curr Opin Neurobiol 62 (June 2020): 17–25.
Buchheit, Thomas, Yul Huh, William Maixner, Jianguo Cheng, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Neuroimmune modulation of pain and regenerative pain medicine.” The Journal of Clinical Investigation 130, no. 5 (May 2020): 2164–76.
Mishra, Santosh K., Joshua J. Wheeler, Saumitra Pitake, Huiping Ding, Changyu Jiang, Tomoki Fukuyama, Judy S. Paps, et al. “Periostin Activation of Integrin Receptors on Sensory Neurons Induces Allergic Itch.” Cell Rep 31, no. 1 (April 7, 2020): 107472.
Suo, Yang, Zilong Wang, Lejla Zubcevic, Allen L. Hsu, Qianru He, Mario J. Borgnia, Ru-Rong Ji, and Seok-Yong Lee. “Structural Insights into Electrophile Irritant Sensing by the Human TRPA1 Channel.” Neuron 105, no. 5 (March 4, 2020): 882-894.e5.
Wang, Zilong, Changyu Jiang, Qianru He, Megumi Matsuda, Qingjian Han, Kaiyuan Wang, Sangsu Bang, Huiping Ding, Mei-Chuan Ko, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Anti-PD-1 treatment impairs opioid antinociception in rodents and nonhuman primates.” Sci Transl Med 12, no. 531 (February 19, 2020).
Ji, Ru-Rong, Christopher R. Donnelly, and Maiken Nedergaard. “Astrocytes in chronic pain and itch.” Nat Rev Neurosci 20, no. 11 (November 2019): 667–85.
Zhu, Cheng, Qingjian Han, Alexander Samoshkin, Marino Convertino, Alexander Linton, Edgar M. Faison, Ru-Rong Ji, Luda Diatchenko, and Nikolay V. Dokholyan. “Stabilization of μ-opioid receptor facilitates its cellular translocation and signaling.” Proteins 87, no. 10 (October 2019): 878–84.
Wang, Zilong, Christopher R. Donnelly, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Scratching after Stroking and Poking: A Spinal Circuit Underlying Mechanical Itch.” Neuron 103, no. 6 (September 25, 2019): 952–54.
Luo, Xin, Yul Huh, Sangsu Bang, Qianru He, Linlin Zhang, Megumi Matsuda, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Macrophage Toll-like Receptor 9 Contributes to Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathic Pain in Male Mice.” J Neurosci 39, no. 35 (August 28, 2019): 6848–64.
Lopez, Tyler, Zahid Mustafa, Chuan Chen, Ki Baek Lee, Aaron Ramirez, Chris Benitez, Xin Luo, Ru-Rong Ji, and Xin Ge. “Functional selection of protease inhibitory antibodies.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116, no. 33 (August 13, 2019): 16314–19.